Sunday, September 18, 2016

Some Positive News for a Change

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., September 19, 2016—The recently concluded meet at Kentucky Downs is a trend-busting phenomenon that represents a victory for racing because it’s a winner for the player.

Not that winning money there is easy; winning is never easy. But you’ve got a chance to make money because true value is available and the interest is there because, on balance, horseplayers love turf racing.

With record purses attracting full fields, Kentucky Downs closed its five-date boutique meet September 15 with total wagering up nearly 34 percent, an astounding figure. Compared to last year, which was great, it was equivalent of an added sixth day.

Betting on the closing program was $3.6 million, bringing all-sources handle to $22.5 million for 2016. Not bad for a five-day meet spread over two weeks at a track in the middle of nowhere battling significant major league competition.

I played and lost, but am looking forward to the 2017 session. I wagered three days, lost two, and nearly won enough the third day when, forgetting to take my stupid pills, nearly got even for my personal incursion into the Kentucky countryside.

Form-wise, my only beef is that results there reflect parimutuel feast or famine. On one hand, bettors get solid prohibitive choices at greater than odds-on, e.g. Kitten’s Cat comprehensive victory at 5-2.

But there are too many more examples where complete chaos rules. That’s the good news and bad news about $130,000 two- and three-year-old maiden races on grass.

However, that’s to be expected in large fields [nearly 11 per race] on turf in general, especially given a final-sixteenth finish that goes uphill, of all things. In addition to the gambling, it makes for great horse racing on TV.

God willing, we plan to drive to Saratoga for the final three weeks of the 2017 meet, visit with friends and family thereafter, and stop in Memphis/Frankfort area for a few days of racing before returning to SoFla.

Just got to see and feel what this place is all about. It and the “new” Laurel, where handle was up [with one added day] 50% for the fall meet.

This Weekend Was All About the Horses

If you love the game, you have to love what you saw this weekend. Tepin, The Pizza Man, a budding juvenile in Not This Time, and a three-year-old turf filly On Leave all gave noteworthy performances.

MARVEL: Literally and figuratively, turf queen Tepin did it again, winning her eighth straight that would have made it an even dozen had if not for a nasty Saratoga photograph taken last season.

There were reasons to have doubts going into the Woodbine Mile. Her energy level was so low in Saratoga that the Casse barn scraped plans to try males in the Fourstardave. Instead, they returned to home base and filled in the only missing race on a Canadian Hall of Fame resume.

She trained brilliantly for the race but any top trainer will tell you that horses will fool you; give you every indication they’re ready for best before being exposed by the stress of real competition. Plus they wanted to leave something in the tank for Breeders’ Cup.

The defending turf champion is a true “workhorse;” she thrives on work. Also, just how much did her amazingly gutsy hard-fought Ascot win drain her reserves? Well, at this juncture there certainly are no worries there: She just breathes different air right now.

"I had my reservations coming into the race,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse. “I thought we had her cranked up but I wasn't 100 percent confident.” Sure enough, she won with an effort that was nowhere close to her ‘A’ race.

It seems now that Tepin will place herself wherever Julien Leparoux thinks she’s comfortable. It was a perfect stalking trip over the kind of cutting ground she loves. But she needed to prove it in the lane, and prove it she did, laying her body down to do so.

“She got tired today but she'll move forward and run a little better race next time,” added Casse. That’s good news for anyone who loves to see a great horse run.

PROMISE: Speaking of turf mares, On Leave has a long way to go before she can be mentioned in the same breath as the defending champion but she’s getting closer, taking her fourth straight in the G2 Sands Point at Belmont Park.

Catching a flyer beneath speed ace Jose Ortiz in a pace-less lineup, Ortiz was able to engineer ridiculously slow fractions—the norm on New York turf—able to shade quarters of 25 seconds all the way around. Still, you have to kick on thereafter, and kick she did.

Showing an unusual turn of foot while setting the pace for the first time, she opened ground nearing the three-sixteenths, blowing the race up in midstretch, her final hand-time sixteenth in a very worthy 11.54 seconds. It’s not easy getting nine furlongs in 1:47.82 off her splits.

On Leave is likely to take her game to Keeneland for the G1 Queen Elizabeth next month. The hope is the competition makes her run a little harder. Dying to see the rest of what lies beneath that hood.

REDEMPTION: Just when you start to think that The Pizza Man can’t do it anymore, he proves you wrong, even in deep stretch where he was running one-paced before a final-strides surge beneath a well-executed between-horses finish from talented Flavian Prat.

The hard-hitting campaigner was aided by stalking a very slow pace on “good” Woodbine turf, and by the fact World Approval just couldn’t stay that final furlong. To his credit, he hard charging Wake Forest safe, as well as talented European Majeed who loomed menacingly only to flatten in the last sixteenth.

This might have been trainer Roger Brueggemann’s best work. Time to head West gentlemen.

PRIORITIES: Seeing top young horses is always a treat but seeing one that might be something special is better yet. His name is Not This Time, a dominant winner of the Iroquois Stakes on opening Saturday of the Churchill Downs Fall meet.

It’s one thing to jump up in the air at the break, stalk a slow pace very wide throughout in a two-turn debut, attack the leaders at headstretch then draw away. But by 8-3/4 lengths with something in reserve while showing a brilliant turn of foot? How often does that happen?

It’s difficult to gauge a mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.22 given Saturday’s conditions. But it must be very good considering it took filly Daddys Lil Darling needed nearly two full seconds more to win the same-trip Pocahontas.

“He’s the real deal,” said trainer Dale Romans. “He’s spooky good…that slow break wasn’t going to get him beat… When I think I have tons the best I tell [the rider] to keep [horses] in the clear in a nice, long gallop and try to overtake them. That’s what he did.”

“He’s got a future,” confirmed Robby Albarado and we’ll find out if that’s true soon enough as the victory earned Not This Time an all-expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup.

Should he win that, it will give Liam’s Map’s half-brother by Giant’s Causeway a total of 30 qualifying points for the big race back home on May’s first Saturday of 2017. “The key now,” said the Louisville native, “is to get him to the Kentucky Derby.”

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

With Saratoga Looming, Something Old and Some New Things

HALLANDALE BEACH, July 17, 2016—From Southern California to the Jersey Shore, and from Kentucky and, as of this weekend, Indiana, all roads are lead to Saratoga for the most consequential summit among three-year-olds of both sexes this year.

It begins next weekend when sensational Songbird, a filly that some, myself included, say is reminiscent of Ruffian, gets her first serious challenge when she meets Carina Mia in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

If all goes well for both, a rematch in the storied mile-and-a-quarter Alabama on August 20 is promised.

The week after--if all goes well in the Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy--a rematch of Triple Crown achievers Nyquist, Exaggerator and Creator would be extraordinary, a few talented new shooters sprinkled in for added interest.

Beyond this, the human races figure to be even more interesting. With Chad Brown having an extraordinary Belmont meeting, you know perennial Saratoga leader Todd Pletcher wants to retain his title.

Interesting here will be the battles between Pletcher’s juveniles vs. Brown’s legion of turf runners. Weather will factor into this, of course. Brown came close last year and with more talented dirt runners in the barn, this could be his year. Both will be going all-in. This rivalry isn’t media-made; it’s real.

With the addition of Florent Geroux and the strong riding of Joel Rosario in New York this year, the jockey battle, always of supreme interest in Saratoga, will be very highly contested.

With Geroux, the country’s leaded graded-stakes rider, joining Rosario, Saratoga titlists Javier Castellano and Johnny Velazquez, the prodigious Ortiz brothers and the emerging Manny Franco, the jockey race will be lively and highly competitive; great for bettors.

Of course, the results will depend on the quality mounts as most trainers have their “go-to” guys and barns can go hot or cold regardless of focus and intent.

Five days and counting but, first, some unfinished business:

Go Right Young Man:
Woodbine’s scheduling of right-handed races is a fascinating experiment, one that ultimately could lead to truly international sport in the years and decades to come.

Of course, racing left to right is how the sport is conducted in many parts of the world, most notably Europe.

However, judging by the one race we witnessed this week, much more experimenting in North American left-handed racing needs to be done. Until then, it would be a bad idea for bettors to get too heavily invested.

Don’t know if it was the nature of the horses—maiden claimers at the distance of 5-1/2 furlongs--or that the turf course undulated midway through the race, but the race was messy. The small field saw many horses bearing out, most likely the product of changing over to a left-footed lead change for the straightaway sprint to the finish.

Just like an appearance at Carnegie Hall, horses will need practice, practice, and more practice.

The tack of working horses “the wrong way” worked wonders for Frosted last year. Greentree, the private training center in Saratoga down Nelson Avenue from the racetrack, was the perfect venue for the experiement.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said at the time that it kept the horse fresher mentally and contributed to improved athletic balance which is good for overall conditioning and health. Think of it as a full-body workout.

If this kind of racing and training proves good for the horse, it will be good for the game. The diversity would be good for bettors, too, having a new handicapping variable to consider.

Some trainers might use these races as conditioners or a pathway to purses, the horses getting a chance to prove they are “left-handed” specialists, in the way that some horses are slop freaks or grass specialists today.

Of course, without a private training track or lighter morning traffic, it could be a logistical nightmare for horses and trainers stabled at racetracks, likely necessitating a fixed time for when horses could work out from right to left, as opposed to mere wrong-way gallops.

As stated, the race we saw had horses not only drift out from the unaccustomed lead change but also bear in after straightening away, in effect not knowing what to do next.

Wherever this experiment goes, Woodbine deserves props for trying something new in a sport that resists change by almost any means necessary.

Woodbine never has been shy when it comes to innovation and we’re happy to report that there are a few racetrack operators still willing to take chances. Good for them; we wish them the best.

In New York, Meaning Well Is Not Enough: This week the New York Racing Association announced that there would be rule changes affecting payoffs in the Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6 pools starting July 22 in the event of canceled races, rules mandated by the New York State Gaming Commission.

It seems that the NYSGC overthought the issue and were too simplistic and not completely thought-through all at the same time. While the change is easy to understand—canceled races become an ALL-WIN race for every bettor, the solution is neither optimal nor fair.

The why of that is simple: If a bettor has a strong opinion and singles a particular horse, he’s not as well off than a bettor who spread his selections in that same race:

The one who singles gets a consolation prize for that race; the bettor with no opinion who spread gets rewarded for every horse he used. Does that sound equitable?

The NYRA has tried “alternative selections” before, leaving that wagering leg up to the bettor in the event of surface switches and late-late scratches. It was eliminated because it required filling out a special wagering slip and bettors did not take advantage.

But with more sequential wagers available today; bettors’ needs have changed.

As it stands now, post-time scratches will still result in mandatory “post time favorite” substitutions after the betting pool has closed. So what’s beneficial about the new all-win rule? Nothing really at the bottom line.

As we saw happen at Golden Gate, switching the last two turf races to the main track because due to controversial “unsafe” course conditions, bettors who made sizable investments chasing a huge pool were stuck with tiny payoffs resulting in widespread losses.

Now that people bet on self-service screens, or live with a mutuel clerk without the use of “betting slips,” that no longer needs to be the case. There is no argument that technology exists to rectify this dilemma with alternative selections. It’s then on the bettors for not taking advantage.

Of course, writing new code costs money and perhaps the NYSGC doesn’t want to put that cost on the tracks. Fair enough. But if you take from takeout revenues to pay for salaries, why not pay for the new coding that helps the customer? Now that's something that would be fair and equitable.

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

“Improvement of the Breed” No Longer Applies to Thoroughbred Racing

Like the author of the following, Dr. Steven A. Roman, creator of the Dosage Index algorithm that measures a sire's pre-potency for passing on his distance racing capability to its offspring, I am not optimistic when it comes to racing's future when measured against real-world materiality.

But what sense does it make to be a horseplayer or, for that matter, the owner of a well-bred two-year-old, if you can't dream a little?

It's in that spirit, in the hope that Roman's long goodbye will resonate with a heretofore unknown guardian angel, one brilliant enough to invent a magic wand so big that it can be waved over 38 horse-racing states and the District of Columbia.

The following remarks are the thoughts of a man who at no time wanted to make racing a profession, but rather it remain an avocation, something to love, see it prosper and endure, enjoyed by a wider audience.

I've written this before but upon leaving the Gulfstream Park walking ring behind the Florida Derby horses this winter as a few thousand fans surveyed the scene, I turned to a track executive and said: "I feel sorry for all the people that don't get it about Thoroughbred racing."

And I still mean that and why I, personally, will not leave the game until someone pulls the remote out of one cold dead hand while I try to bet with the other.

For Roman, his love of the game was enough to apply his science background to pedigree study, and he made a mark. How many others tethered to the horse can say the same with that qualifier?

All in racing who truly love it, and wish it would last forever, please don't raise your hand. Instead, step up and do something crazy; think outside the bottom line, about a long range plan that could work over time.

So. will the racing industry finally act to reverse overall negative perceptions of the game, or is it already too late?

Here, then, Part 2 of Steven Roman's long goodbye to the game...

"Solutions cannot be achieved without difficulty because of the overriding economic interests of those within the industry, but there are things that can be done. The objective, short of eliminating the sport, is to minimize the likelihood of injury and death, accepting that riders have a choice but the horses do not.

"As an industry outsider I have no say in implementing change, but I can have an opinion. An obvious step is the complete elimination of race day medication with severe penalties for violators, up to and including criminal prosecution or a lifetime ban depending on the severity of the infraction. This protects not only the athletes but the interests of the horseplayers as well.

"I've never understood why any transgressions by trainers, owners, riders or veterinarians that could affect the outcome of a race and, consequently, the bankrolls of horseplayers are tolerated at all. Which other gambling outlet permits similar behavior? What would the penalty be if the ownership or staff of a Las Vegas casino was caught cheating? Would it be a slap on the wrist? I doubt it.

"Another even less likely approach is a switch to racing exclusively on grass, a surface well documented to reduce (but unfortunately not eliminate) fatalities and which is the standard racing surface for most of the world. The industry did experiment, generating mixed results, with all-weather synthetic surfaces as a substitute for dirt. In reality, synthetic surfaces are not the same as or even a close approximation to dirt.

"If safety truly was the primary concern a safer surface, turf, already exists. A. F. Carke in American Association Equine Practitioners 55:183-186, 2009 noted that although it appears synthetic surfaces are safer than dirt, when synthetic surfaces replaced turf courses, Fatal Musculoskeletal Injury (FMSI) rates increased, confirming turf as the safest type of surface.

"I personally believe the real motivation behind the introduction of synthetic surfaces was purely economic with increased safety a secondary consideration and good for public relations. The drainage characteristics of synthetic surfaces are supposed to keep them viable under virtually all weather conditions. The desired result? No revenue loss from cancellations due to weather-related problems. And, presumably, although debatable, maintenance costs can be lower as well.

"There may have been marginal improvements in safety with synthetic surfaces, but that may be because they are inherently slower compared to dirt. However, as a trained scientist I found it disturbing that these surfaces were installed and used without any prior long-term studies of their health effects on the horses or the riders.

"Synthetic surfaces are formulated in different ways but generally consist of sand and polymeric materials in fiber form usually modified by the addition of rubber and wax. As the surface particles erode under continual exposure to mechanical effects (e.g., the pounding of horses' hooves, harrowing, etc.) and environmental effects (e.g., heat, sunlight, wind, moisture, etc.) the dust and vapors created are inhaled by horse and rider.

"It's bad enough when the athletes' lungs are exposed to the dust from the breakdown of dirt particles. It's far worse when they are exposed to dust and vapors from eroding synthetic materials and even natural materials that are potentially carcinogenic or may physically damage the respiratory system. Not knowing the long-term effects should be completely unacceptable - but not, apparently, to those who control the game.

"In a changing world, Thoroughbred racing faces other problems affecting its long-term viability. From the wagering side, which is the foundation of the game, the number of competitive threats continues to grow. There are many more options today to throw away one's money. Most of them are a lot easier as well.

"Thoroughbred handicapping, on the other hand, is hard, very hard. The intellectual challenge is enormous and may be its most attractive feature. It's more like chess than checkers, and realistically most are not up to the task. The amount of time, knowledge and discipline required for success is well beyond that which the vast majority is willing to invest or develop.

"When racing was virtually "the only game in town" decades ago, there was limited competition for the wagering and entertainment dollar. Today it's different. A couple of years ago an article by sports columnist Henry D. Fetter in the May 20, 2014 edition of The Atlantic magazine about California Chrome's impending attempt at a Triple Crown noted:

“ ‘Anyone who goes out even to so fabled a racing venue as Santa Anita can readily see how dire the situation has become. Weekday attendance of 15,000 and weekend tallies of 30,000 or even 40,000 that were once routine have dwindled into "crowds" of 2,000 on weekdays and fewer than 10,000 most Saturdays or Sundays, in a facility that was built to host 80,000 or more’.

"Years ago almost everyone who was a contemporary had heard of Seabiscuit, Citation or Secretariat. Not long ago I conducted an informal survey of a dozen or so well-educated American friends with no direct involvement or particular interest in racing but who were current on national and world events. I asked them who Secretariat, Curlin and Zenyatta were. All but one knew who Secretariat was. None knew who Curlin was and only one had even heard of Zenyatta and he thought she was a Derby winner.

"It supported my suspicion that the future of Thoroughbred racing in the United States may be in jeopardy because fewer and fewer people care. Apparently Americans increasingly prefer to watch cars rather than horses race around ovals.

"Then there is the Breeders' Cup, purposely mislabeled as the World Championship of Thoroughbred racing. I recall a conversation with John Gaines, the main driving force behind the Breeders' Cup, in 1983, a year before the event's inauguration. I don't know if he was being forthright or telling me what I wanted to hear, but he said the primary intent of the Breeders' Cup series was to increase interest in Thoroughbred racing and, consequently, grow the fan base.

"If that was truly the intent then by every measure it has been a dismal failure. That's not to say it isn't a great day for wagering and watching high class Thoroughbreds do their thing. It is certainly that. On the downside, it has done absolutely nothing to broaden racing’s appeal.

"The focus on the Breeders' Cup as a singular year-end goal has diminished the significance of many historically important races not the least of which is the former New York Fall Championship series comprised of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (once contested at 2 miles, then a mile and a half and now at a mile and a quarter), the Woodward Stakes (previously at a mile and a quarter and now at a mile and an eighth) and the Suburban Handicap (also previously at a mile and a quarter and now at a mile and an eighth, as well as being demoted to Grade 2 status).

"Today, if a horse doesn't win a Breeders' Cup race its prospects for an Eclipse award are severely compromised unless its prior dominance within its division is absolute. When so much influence is placed on one divisional race it reduces the significance of all the others within it. I consider that an unfortunate development. So there you have it.

"My fading interest in and frustration with American Thoroughbred racing have gotten to the point where the emotional, intellectual and financial rewards are not enough. If I were strictly a handicapper with less emotional investment in the horses themselves I might think differently. Unfortunately, my day-to-day involvement has become more work than pleasure.

"As expressed earlier, my perception (and I reiterate, my perception, not yours) of decreasing quality coupled with less diversity and an industry unable or unwilling to effectively address its most serious issues tells me it's time to go. Sadly, I see no prospect of a trend reversal. Perhaps these issues have always existed and I just wasn't paying attention, or perhaps they have always existed but they were never exposed to the extent they are today.

"Advances in communication have made access to information so much easier. That said, I am reminded of the line from Bob Seger's classic song "Against the Wind": "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then".

"I can summarize my feelings about how much racing has changed with a few of examples of what racing once was and is no longer. On September 28, 1974 at Belmont Park, the great Forego won the mile-and-a-half Woodward Stakes-G1 rallying from 17 lengths behind after the first half mile in a driving finish. Just three weeks later at Aqueduct on October 19 he made an improbable drop back to seven furlongs in the Vosburgh Stakes-G2 and won ridden out under 131 pounds in a time of 1:21.3 giving 13 pounds to runner-up Stop the Music, a very good horse that held the 5 1/2 furlong and one mile dirt records at Belmont Park. Three weeks after that, also at Aqueduct, he won ridden out again making an incredible jump to two miles in the Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1.

"In 1974, Forego raced 13 times between February and November including a two-month hiatus. Two years later he won the Marlboro Cup-G1 in one tick over the Belmont mile-and-a-quarter track record defeating that year's Kentucky Derby-G1 winner and eventual three-year-old champion Honest Pleasure while toting 137 pounds and giving 18 pounds to his younger rival.

"In 1956 the equally great Swaps, which had won the Kentucky Derby the year before, raced nine times. In those nine races he set six track records by two, five, five, seven, eight and 12 ticks, and matched another. The distances were a flat mile, a mile-and-seventy yards, a mile-and-a-sixteenth, a mile-and-and-eighth, a mile-and-a-quarter and a mile-and-five sixteenths. The new records were established across the country at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Washington Park in Illinois and Hollywood Park in California. On seven occasions that year, Swaps carried 130 pounds.

"Finally, there was Round Table which, in a four-year career during the late 1950s, won 43 of 66 starts with eight seconds and five thirds at 15 different tracks from coast to coast, set 15 track and course records and won 17 times under 130 to 136 pounds. These are the kinds of horses and performances I miss, haven't seen in years and almost certainly never will see again.

"I've always felt it is a difficult thing to love both horses and horse racing. It's something I've struggled with for a very long time and it's a position I have expressed to friends and on various racing forums through the years. A very recent event will help clarify my feelings.

"On May 21 of this year at Pimlico, Preakness day, the winner of the first race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth starter allowance race on the dirt, was a nine-year-old gelding named Homeboykris. In 2009, Homeboykris won the Champagne Stakes (G1) as a two-year-old. He was subsequently ranked at 117 pounds on the Experimental Free Handicap, the 11th highest rated juvenile colt or gelding of his year.

"But on the way back to the barn after the Pimlico race he collapsed and died. As recently as last December, in his 60th lifetime start, he was claimed for $5,000, his eighth claim in four years. I fully understand that racing is a business, but to me this unnecessary situation (and many others like it) are unacceptable. Homeboykris won over a half million dollars and was among the best of his generation as a youngster. How is it possible that a horse like this was allowed to keep racing for so long while continually descending the class ladder to such an extent?

"Some of you will understand the point I am trying to make. Others may not. This tragedy has special meaning to me because I had recommended Homeboykris as a potential purchase for a client following his maiden win at Calder. Having spent so many earlier years connected to horses at a personal level, and independently of their exploitation for profit, I have belatedly come down on the side of the horse.

"[Dosage followers can rest assured that the subject has been left in the more than capable hands of Mr. Steve Miller, my long-standing UK associate whose expertise extends well beyond pedigree evaluation. Steve is an author, correspondent, columnist and analyst. He has also been a Thoroughbred owner and has written on horse racing for the Sporting Life, Racing Post, Pacemaker & Thoroughbred Breeder, the Blood-Horse and Raceform and Timeform publications. His academic interests are in Art, Theology and Science].

"In retrospect, I believe we have made some valuable contributions to our understanding of Thoroughbred pedigrees. We have confirmed Vuillier's original hypothesis that the aptitudinal evolution of the Thoroughbred can be adequately expressed through the influence of a very small number of the stallions at stud in any era. We have developed statistical tools that allow us to monitor the evolution of Thoroughbred speed over time, clearly confirming the continuous shift away from stamina. And we have shown that the patterns of inherited prepotent speed found in pedigrees correlate in a statistically significant way with performance characteristics on the track for large populations.

"We have also tried to broaden our understanding of speed figure methodology by shifting the emphasis away from final time to the notion of total energy expenditure while intimately incorporating pace into the figure calculation. And at all times we have tried to present original and current data that the owner, breeder and horseplayer would find valuable. Hopefully our efforts have been useful to some.

"My biggest regret is not having been able to properly frame the connection between Dosage and the American classics, a failure that has tarnished Dosage theory for many despite the fact that the classics were just a minor component of the research. The original observation made in 1981 that no Derby winner since at least 1940 had a DI over 4.00 was immediately misinterpreted by the turf media led by Andrew Beyer and others as a declaration that no horse with a DI over 4.00 could win the Derby. That's the erroneous message a lot of people took away and it is a misperception that persists even to this day.

"Earlier, in the original Daily Racing Form series on Dosage, we had highlighted the increase in inherited speed in Thoroughbred pedigrees over time as reflected in increasing DIs among divisional champions since the 1940s. Projecting ahead and assuming no dramatic shift in breeding patterns it was clear that the DI 4.00 Kentucky Derby guideline figure was relevant only to that era… The current trend line suggests that in the absence of a dramatic shift in breeding direction, we could expect half of all Derby winners to have DIs over 4.00 within the next decade. More Derby winners with high DIs were predicted 35 years ago but the prediction was ignored by a lazy or uninformed turf media.

"Beyond just the DI “inflation” factor there is the further statistical correlation between the DI of the Derby winners and their performance in the premier American classic, as alluded to earlier. Ironically, it is Beyer’s own data that confirm a decrease in the quality of performance with increased speed in the winner’s pedigree, captured in the final chart below displaying the relationship between the Derby winner Beyer Speed Figure and its DI.

"In fact, the average BSF of the Derby winners since 1991 with DI less than 2.00 is 110.2 while the average BSF for the Derby winners with DI over 4.00 is 105.3, a difference of up to four lengths on the Beyer beaten lengths scale at 10 furlongs. Additionally, the difference is statistically significant whether we use the DI at the time of the race or after any changes made since then by the addition of new chefs-de-race. This concept, as well, never made it into the public consciousness.

"In conclusion, I want to thank the supporters of the chef-de-race web site and of my research for their interest over the years. I wish them and their families all the best. Stay well and good-bye."

Written by John Pricci

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